Turnaround Architect Hamilton Named ACC Coach of the Year
March 6, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (ACSMA) — Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, whose team responded from a 9-6 over-all start to make a run at the ACC’s regular-season title, is the conference’s Coach of the Year for 2012 in one of the closest races in history.
Hamilton received 21 votes to 20 for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in balloting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. This represents the third time that the Coach of the Year contest has been determined by a single vote. NC State’s Everett Case outpolled Hal Bradley of Duke in 1958 and Dean Smith of North Carolina edged NC State’s Jim Valvano in 1988.
Hamilton, who also claimed the award in 2009, welcomed back a team with ambitious expectations in the aftermath of a charge to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 in 2011. But the Seminoles struggled early with turnovers and inconsistent field-goal shooting, and they began ACC play with a 20-point loss at Clemson.
The influx of guard Ian Miller to the lineup and Hamilton’s tweaking of the offense led to a rise in efficiency. In one mid-season stretch, FSU exceeded the national average in field-goal shooting in six of seven games. Included in that run were wins over North Carolina and at Duke that stamped FSU as a contender in the regular-season race.
The Noles remained in pursuit of that goal until the season’s final days. In late February, FSU, Duke and UNC all stood at 11-2 in league play, marking the first time that three clubs had 11 or more wins in 13 games of ACC action. Florida State (21-9, 12-4 ACC) is ranked 17th nationally by the Associated Press poll and has advanced from 86th in the RPI through all games of Jan. 7 to 24th as of late Monday night.
Hamilton’s guidance was especially apparent in the late stages of his team’s several tense games. FSU won three ACC contests with tie-breaking or come-from-behind 3-point field goals in the final second of play — two in which time expired with the ultimate winner in flight and a third on a basket with eight-tenths of a second on the clock. As a result, the Seminoles were 6-1 in regular-season ACC outings decided by five or fewer points, and they enter this week’s ACC Tournament seeded third.
The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association is an organization of journalists dedicated to fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between the news media and the institutions and admini-stration of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The group serves as a liaison to decision-makers.